For most, it is a great opportunity to find out what interests you (or does not interest you) about the public relations industry, get a network of contacts, gain experience to bulk up that resume, and possibly earn a little cash in the process. Before you step foot into the office, here’s a list of seven tips to help you get the most out of your internship.
1. Have a good attitude.
The first and arguably most important thing is to have a good attitude. Your day-to-day tasks will probably be varied. One day you might be fetching coffee and archiving files, and the next day you could be at a photo shoot with a client. The key is to always be prepared, flexible, and enthusiastic about each task. As a manager, I am always excited to give more responsibility to interns who show eagerness, enthusiasm, and a can-do spirit.
2. Go above and beyond.
This should go without saying, but in order to succeed at any job, you need to exceed expectations. If you’re assigned to track media clippings or develop a media list, make sure that what you are putting together is thorough and organized, but why not send it over with a few ideas, too? Maybe you thought of a way to streamline the report or you have a great idea to improve the campaign. Share your ideas and let your co-workers know you’re constantly thinking about how this project (no matter how menial it may seem) fits into the bigger picture.
Make sure you are giving your complete attention to work tasks when you’re at work. You would be surprised at how many interns over the years I have seen hanging out on social media or texting with friends instead of completing assignments. It is OK to let that text message about tonight’s party sit unanswered for a few hours. Facebook and Twitter can wait.
4. Be a self-starter.
Finished that assignment already? Let your boss and co-workers know that you are ready for more projects. Can’t find them? Take it upon yourself to work on something that you think would be beneficial for the company—research competitors or brainstorm ideas for that new client.
5. Ask for feedback.
Don’t be afraid to ask your boss how you are doing. Practice makes perfect, but not without improvement. Take the opportunity to get feedback that will help you grow as a professional.
When possible, learn from your co-workers. How did they land their current job? What do they like most about what they do? What advice would they give someone—like you—just starting out in PR? I can promise that you will learn a lot from their answers, and taking an interest in their careers makes it more likely that they will take an interest in yours.
7. Say thank you, and keep in touch.
We all hear the phrase that it’s “all about who you know.” Well, now you know several people who work in the career you want. Send thank-you notes at the end of the internship expressing your gratitude for the opportunity. Ask to connect on LinkedIn. Grab coffee over winter break. Follow up with a note when you graduate. Don’t fall off the face of the Earth. Even if there isn’t a position at that company for you come graduation, one of them might know of the perfect position for you somewhere else.
I hope you find this list helpful and make the most out of your internship. Good luck!